Free Inkscape Tutorials for Beginners

When starting in vector graphics design, Inkscape may be the best free software you have never heard of.

For people trying to create their own images, SVG's for Cricut, logos, and designs, their minds often jump to software like Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop or CorelDRAW.

It’s understandable. These products offer you the ability to create images or graphics and then use them in a wide variety of sources. The products are functional and easy to use. They’re popular.

However, they also cost money. For a business just starting out, money is hard to come by.

That’s why many businesses are now turning to an alternative like Inkscape.

These free Inkscape tutorials for beginners will help you learn how simple and easy it is to design in Inkscape.

What is Inkscape?

While this may be the first time you’ve heard of Inkscape, it’s not a new software. It’s been around since 2003 and continues to evolve to this day.

Inkscape is a vector graphics software similar to Adobe Illustrator. It can run on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

The software offers a variety of features that allow you to create both artistic and technical drawings. In other words, you can use the software to create cartoons, logos, or even flowcharts for your next presentation.

Because it’s a vector graphics software, the images are scalable, allowing you to make them larger or smaller without distorting the image.

Is Inkscape good for beginners?

The great thing about Inkscape is that it’s a professional-grade software without the professional-grade price. It is an open-source software that is free to use.

That makes Inkscape the ideal product for beginners. You can test it out and learn the ins and outs of the software without spending any money.

Other than the price, most experts agree that Inkscape is also ideal for beginners because of its easy-to-use interface.

According to the site Fix the Photo, Inkscape offers a “simple interface” with a “large number of pro designing tools.” The software is optimized to work on older PCs, making it ideal for beginners who might not have the high-powered processing machine that an experienced graphic artist would own.

What can you create with Inkscape?

While it sounds cliché, the sky is the limit for Inkscape.

One designer told Quora that he used Inkscape to create infographics, memes, logos, icons, flowcharts, illustrations, book cover designs, web designs, SVG's for Cricut, and UI designs.

The site OpenSource says you can use Inkscape to create diagrams, marketing materials such as posters and brochures, paper for scrapbooking, layouts for printed circuit boards, etc.

If you need to design something, odds are, you can do it on Inkscape.

Main advantages of vector graphics

One of the significant advantages of Inkscape is that is creates vector graphics. These are scalable images. That means you can compress the images without losing the quality of the image.

Vector graphics can do this because it’s made up of a series of commands or mathematical statements. Those commands and mathematical statements tell the software where to place lines, shapes, and colors. They can mathematically adjust as the image is resized.

As a result, vector graphics software can create an image that is easy to use and easy to transfer. Most vector graphics are contained in small data files that can be easily stored and share between users.

Other advantages of vector graphics

On top of the key advantages, there are also other advantages to using vector graphics software.

Because of the mathematical quality of vector graphics software, images are easy to manipulate, allowing you to stretch or compress an object.

You can also create realistic-looking inanimate objects.

Vector graphics allow you to create animated images that move across a screen or stretch or compress on camera. Similarly, you can use vector graphics to create images that users can interact with.

Disadvantages of vector graphics

For all the advantages, there are also disadvantages to vector graphics.

For one thing, it is challenging to use vector graphics for complex designs, especially if you are a beginner.

Self-Made Designer points out that vector graphics are not suitable for “natural media.” While inanimate objects work well in vector graphics, animate ones such as people and animals are difficult to recreate. Natural textures like grass or water or watercolor or oil painting images don’t always look natural.

Vector graphics also don’t edit images well.

How to use Inkscape step by step

The first thing you’ll need to do is download Inkscape. For the latest version, just click here.

Inkscape has several free tutorials for beginners to teach you how to get started with the product. You can find them all here. The tutorials will help you learn how to use the software.

Start with the Basics Tutorial. It will teach you the hotkeys in Inkscape and how to add shapes. You’ll also learn how to move, scale, rotate, fill, group, duplicate and transform those shapes.

Once you have the basics down, you can start work on your graphics project.

How to use Inkscape for Cricut SVG's

How to create a sticker in Inkscape step by step

Step 1 – Open a New Document

As with any Inkscape creation, the first thing you want to do is open a new document. You can do this by simply opening Inkscape and selecting “New Document.”

Step 2 – Sizing Your Sticker

The next thing you need to do is to size your sticker.

Click on “File” and select “Document Properties.”

Once there, choose the units of measurement you want to work with. You can find that under the “Custom Size” section of the “Document Properties.”

Personally, I like working in inches.

If you want to see the sticker’s background better, then click “Checkerboard Background” under “Background.” It will create a checkerboard background, making it easier for you to see the white outline of your sticker.

Step 3 – Create Your Sticker

Once your document is set up, it’s time to create your sticker.

Put down any font, image, etc., that you want on the sticker.

Resize the image so that it is the size that you want.

Step 4 – Grouping Your Image

Once you have created the sticker image to your liking, you need to group it together so that the image stays the same no matter how you move it.

Click on “Path” from the menu at the top of Inkscape and then “Object to Path” at the top of the drop-down menu.

Right-click on any text within your image and click “Ungroup.”

Then, without clicking on anything else on the screen, click on “Path” from the menu at the top and click “Union” from the drop-down menu.

This will create one cohesive image.

Step 5 (Optional) – Creating an Offset

If you want to create an offset for your sticker, meaning you want a background, then click on “Path” from the menu at the top and click “Linked Offset.”

This will place a small node at the top of your image. Dragging on the node will create the offset.

You can size the offset to whatever you like.

Step 6 – Cleaning Up the Image

Once you have your image and optional offset in place, you need to clean up the image. This is especially important if you plan to print this image on a machine like Cricut or if you plan to sell the plans to this image so other people can print it on a similar machine.

Pull the image away from the offset. Click on “Path” from the menu at the top of Inkscape and click “Object to Path” from the drop-down menu.

On the left-hand side of the screen, there is a button which says “Edit Path by Nodes.” It is the second button from the top.

When you click on that button, it will show all of the nodes Cricut will follow to cut out your images. The nodes in the center are small pieces that Cricut will cut out or around unless you remove those nodes.

You can remove the nodes by clicking on a node and then pressing “Delete” on your keyboard.

Step 7 – Saving Your Sticker

Once your sticker is ready, you will click on “File” from the top menu in Inkscape. Then click on “Export PNG Image…”

You will need to make sure that the “Selection” tab is selected on the right-hand side of the screen.

A button in the middle of that menu says “Export As.” Click that button.

Then you will need to create a name for your sticker and select a place to save it.

Click “Save.”

Then click “Export.” It will be the button that replaced the “Export As” button.

Now you can upload this to your Cricut or share the file with other people to print.

Want to learn how to create stickers to sell? Check out the Sticker Plan course by Mim!

How to create a printable in Inkscape step by step

Step 1 – Open a New Document

Creating a printable in Inkscape is very similar to creating a sticker. Start by creating a “New Document.”

Step 2 – Sizing Your Printable

You will once again need to choose a size in your new document.

Click on “File” from the menu at the top of Inkscape and select “Document Properties.”

Choose the units of measurement you want to work with. You can find that under the “Custom Size” section of the “Document Properties.”

For most printables, you will be working with letter-sized paper.

Letter sized paper measures 8.5” by 11” for portrait and 11” by 8.5” for landscape.

You can change the paper size in the “Custom Size” section, or you can simply click “Portrait” or “Landscape” in the “Orientation” section.

Step 3 – Create Your Printable

Now it’s time to create your printable.

As Scattered Squirrel explains, working with Inkscape can be time-consuming when creating full-page printables, but when you’re done, you’ll end up with a great product. 

One tip for creating your printable, don’t forget the margins. Just because you’re making a printable on an 8.5” by 11” page, it does not mean you have all that space to work with.

Be sure to leave a quarter-inch to a half-inch margin on the top, bottom, and both sides. This will ensure that your printed printable will fit on the page.

Step 4 – Spell Check

Inkscape has a spell check, but like all documents you’re going to distribute, you should still read and reread your printable before saving it as a final product.

Even spell check misses things. Make sure you review your printable several times before you finish.

Step 5 – Saving Your Printable

Since you don’t want anyone editing your printable, you will want to save it as a PDF. To do that, click “File” and then “Save a Copy” in the drop-down menu. Following that, select “Portable Document Format” or “PDF.”

You will select a location to save the file and then click “Save” and “Okay.”

Want to learn how to make printables to sell? Check out our course here.

How to create a poster in Inkscape step by step

Creating a poster in Inkscape is similar to creating a printable.

Step 1 – Open a New Document

Like all of these walkthroughs, the first thing you need to do is create a new document. You can do this by opening Inkscape and clicking “New Document.”

Step 2 – Sizing Your Poster

Your new document will open, and you will then choose a size.

Click on “File” and select “Document Properties.”

Choose the units of measurement you want to work with. You can find that under the “Custom Size” section of the “Document Properties.”

While printing a poster in virtually any size will work, it might be a good idea to stick to standard poster sizes to start.

Common poster sizes include 8.5” x 11”, 11” x 17”, 18” x 24”, 24” x 36” and 27” x 40”.

Remember, one of the great things about working with a vector graphics software is that even if you create the poster for one size, you can easily make it bigger or smaller to fit another size poster.

Step 3 – Create Your Poster

Now it’s time to create your poster.

Just like with printables, you need to be aware of the margins. The last thing you want is part of your poster falling off the page because some of the image is outside the margin.

If you’re looking for some poster ideas, Logos by Nick has a great walkthrough that shows you how to create a fancy-looking poster that’s mostly made up of text. You can find it here.

Step 4 – Spell Check

Read, reread and read again.

You’re creating something that you want other people to see, or possibly to purchase.

Make sure you spell all the words correctly, and the grammar makes sense.

Step 5 – Saving Your Poster

Now it’s time to save your poster.

To do that, click “File” at the top of Inkscape and then “Save a Copy” in the drop-down menu. Following that, select “Portable Document Format” or “PDF.”

You will select a location to save the file and then click “Save” and “Okay.”

Conclusion

Whether you’re creating a logo, marketing material, or printables that you want to share and sell, Inkscape is a quality product that has a lot of versatility.

Because it’s free to use, Inkscape is one of the best products on the market for people starting in graphic design and printables.